- The Bucks assigned D.J. Wilson to the G League in advance of the Wisconsin Herd’s two-game road trip this week, according to the club (Twitter link). A first-rounder in 2017, Wilson still isn’t part of Milwaukee’s rotation, having played just two games for the Bucks this season.
- The Bucks recalled Christian Wood from the Wisconsin Herd today, according to RealGM’s transactions log. Wood has appeared sparingly in just six games for Milwaukee in 2018/19.
- Steve Aschburner of NBA.com stresses the importance of retaining Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton in free agency for the Bucks, with both talents playing key roles on the team around Giannis Antetokounmpo this season. “It is our mission statement,” Bucks GM Jon Horst said, explaining the importance of building around Antetokounmpo. “What Giannis means to our team, our franchise, our city, our state kind of goes beyond words. We have to make the most of the opportunity to find and build things that fit with him.” Milwaukee is 16-8 on the season and holds the No. 2 spot out East, sporting an impressive 12-3 record at home.
While the three-team trade finalized by the Cavaliers, Bucks, and Wizards on Friday won’t have the same on-court impact as the blockbuster the Raptors and Spurs completed in the offseason, or the Sixers’ acquisition of Jimmy Butler last month, it’s a complicated transaction with many moving parts. So, as we did with those previous deals, we want to take a deep dive into all the financial and cap considerations going on for the three clubs involved in the swap.
Let’s dive right in…
How salary-matching works in the trade:
George Hill‘s $19,000,000 cap hit is the largest single salary involved in the trade. It would have allowed the Cavaliers to take back up to $24MM by itself (the outgoing salary, plus $5MM), so using it to absorb John Henson ($11,327,466) and Matthew Dellavedova ($9,607,500) together is no problem. That means the Cavs are essentially trading Sam Dekker for “nothing” and can create a traded player exception worth his salary ($2,760,095).
[RELATED: Outstanding NBA Traded Player Exceptions]
From the Bucks‘ perspective, neither of their outgoing players are earning enough to match Hill’s $19MM salary on their own, so Henson and Dellavedova need to be aggregated. Together, they earn $20,934,966, which allows the Bucks take back up to $26,268,708 (125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100K). That’s enough to absorb both Hill ($19,000,000) and Jason Smith ($5,450,000).
As an aside, it’s worth noting that the rules for the amount the Cavs can take back using Hill’s $19MM vs. the amount the Bucks can take back using Henson’s and Dellavedova’s $20.93MM are different because the rules change once the salaries cross the $19,600,000 threshold. We explain that in more depth in our glossary entry on the traded player exception.
Finally, the Wizards can use the $3,454,500 traded player exception they created in October’s Jodie Meeks trade on Dekker, whose $2,760,095 salary fits nicely and leaves just $694,405 on that TPE. As a result, Washington essentially trades Smith’s $5,450,000 salary for “nothing,” creating a new trade exception worth that amount.
Teams have one year to use their traded player exceptions, but the Cavs and Wizards will actually get a couple extra days to use theirs. Trade exceptions can’t expire on a weekend, so the expiry date for the new TPEs created by Cleveland and Washington will be December 9, 2019, since December 7 falls on a Saturday next year.
How the Ted Stepien rule affects this trade:
The Ted Stepien rule, which we explain in more detail in a glossary entry, prohibits teams from completing trades that would leave them without a first-round pick for two consecutive future seasons.
DECEMBER 8, 9:00am: As part of the deal, the Wizards also removed the protections on the 2020 second-round pick they owe the Bucks, reports Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). In summation, the trade looks like this, as Smith tweets:
- Bucks receive George Hill, Jason Smith, cash considerations (from Wizards), the Wizards’ 2021 second-round pick (from Cavaliers), and the protections removed on the Wizards’ 2020 second-round pick.
- Cavaliers receive John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks’ 2021 first-round pick (protections detailed below), the Bucks’ 2021 second-round pick, and the Wizards’ 2022 second-round pick.
- Wizards receive Sam Dekker.
DECEMBER 7, 9:25pm: The trade is official, according to a Cavaliers press release. as relayed by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.
6:20pm: The Wizards have agreed to make it a three-team deal by acquiring Dekker for big man Jason Smith and a second-round pick, Wojnarowski tweets. The Cavs will swap a 2021 second-rounder with Washington for a 2022 second-rounder, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.
5:05pm: The Bucks have agreed to acquire veteran guard George Hill from the Cavaliers in exchange for guard Matthew Dellavedova, injured center John Henson and first- and second-round picks in 2021, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
As always, the deal is contingent on the players passing physicals.
The Bucks will save approximately $18MM for the 2019/20 season with this move, which will increase their flexibility to make more moves next summer, Wojnarowski notes in a separate tweet. With Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe both on track to become free agents in July, that extra flexibility could be crucial.
The Cavs are showing a continued willingness to take on salary in order to acquire future assets, Wojnarowski adds.
There was a sense of urgency in getting this deal done on Friday. These players are now eligible to be aggregated on the February 7th trade deadline, Wojnarowski points out in another tweet. Thus, these players can be combined with other contracts in a deadline deal.
While Cleveland is technically acquiring Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder in the deal, it’s likely to get pushed back to 2022. That’s because the first-rounder that Milwaukee owes Phoenix next summer almost certainly won’t change hands until 2020, as it’s protected 1-3 and 17-30 for 2019. Since teams can’t trade future first-round picks in back-to-back seasons, the Cavs would have to wait an extra year to get their pick from Milwaukee.
There are protections on the first-round pick going to Cleveland, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link). The first-rounder is protected 1-14 in 2021; 1-10 in 2022; 1-10 and 25-30 in 2023; and 1-8 in 2024. If still not conveyed by then, it converts to two second-rounders in 2025.
Hill is making $19MM this season but his $18MM salary for next season doesn’t become fully guaranteed until July 1. Only $1MM is guaranteed, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Milwaukee will almost assuredly cut him loose before then, eating his $1MM partial guarantee. However, Hill can be a contributor this season on a playoff contender.
Henson is making $11.3MM this season and has a $10.5MM guarantee for next season in the final year of his deal. He recently underwent wrist surgery and could miss the rest of the season.
Dellavedova, who will begin his second stint in Cleveland, is making $9.6MM this season and the same amount next season.
Dekker is making $2.76MM and Milwaukee would have to extend a $3.9MM qualifying offer after the season to make him a restricted free agent.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are Friday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Bucks assigned big man Christian Wood to the Wisconsin Herd, the team’s PR department tweets. Wood has played in four games for the Herd this season, averaging 22.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 2.0 BPG in 32.7 MPG. He’s averaging 4.2 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 6.2 MPG in six games with Milwaukee.
As the Bucks have gotten off to a strong start, the improved floor-spacing around Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a key in taking the team to the next level. Of course, one of the key cogs in the Bucks’ rotation has been Brook Lopez, who is attempting nearly seven 3-pointers per game from the center position.
As Marc Stein writes for The New York Times, Lopez’s transformation into an elite shooter at center has made the Bucks offense even more dynamic and unstoppable. As Stein points out, once the Lakers decided not to bring Lopez back in the offseason, the Bucks pounced and added Lopez as a key offseason addition for new head coach Mike Budenholzer as he worked to modernize the team’s offense.
So far, the results speak for themselves. Antetokounmpo is averaging 18.9 points per game in the paint as a result of the increased floor-spacing around him, and the Bucks look to be a regular season power with their new offensive system.
Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:
- The Rockets assigned veteran point guard Brandon Knight to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Knight is close to making his Houston debut after sitting out since April 2017 with a torn ACL. He’ll play for the Vipers on Friday when they host the Salt Lake City Stars. We have more details here.
- The Celtics recalled Brad Wanamaker from the Maine Red Claws, the team’s PR department tweets. Boston wanted a little more backcourt depth with Jaylen Brown declared out for Friday’s game against the Cavaliers. Wanamaker has appeared in five games with the Celtics, averaging 3.2 PPG in 6.2 MPG.
- The Bucks recalled big man Christian Wood from the Wisconsin Herd, according to a team press release. Wood has appeared in three games for the Herd, averaging 23.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 1.7 BPG in 33.4 MPG. He’s seen action in five Bucks games, averaging 3.8 PPG in 6.8 MPG.
NOVEMBER 16: Bucks backup center John Henson will undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left wrist, the team announced today in a press release. Henson initially sustained the injury on November 6 before reporting additional discomfort after Milwaukee’s game on Wednesday, per the club.
While the Bucks don’t provide a specific timeline on Henson’s recovery in their announcement, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that the big man is expected to be sidelined for at least the next 12 weeks. While Henson plans to return this season, it likely won’t happen until after February’s All-Star break, according to Charania.
It’s a tough break for the Bucks and for Henson, who had been giving the team solid minutes as Brook Lopez‘s backup at the five. In 14 games (13.4 MPG), the 27-year-old had recorded 5.6 PPG and 5.1 RPG. He has even added a three-point shot to his game this season under new head coach Mike Budenholzer, making 0.8 threes per game at a 35.5% rate.
The Bucks’ update today also notes that Donte DiVincenzo will miss at least the next three games after suffering a minor left quadriceps strain. Pat Connaughton figures to be first in line to help replace DiVincenzo’s production.
NOVEMBER 25, 10:26am: The move is official, according to a tweet from the team.
NOVEMBER 24, 12:41pm: The Bucks are waiving guard Jodie Meeks in order to maintain their roster at 15 players, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Meeks’ NBA-mandated suspension, which kept him off the team’s roster count while suspended, ends tonight.
As Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, this move has been expected since the Bucks traded for Meeks in October. Yet, as we detailed earlier this week, the Bucks always had the option to trade or release another player on their roster and keep Meeks in the fold.
Ultimately, however, it appears as though the second-round pick and cash that the Bucks received from the Wizards in the Meeks’ deal was enough incentive for Milwaukee to absorb his salary, and the Bucks didn’t need any contribution from the 31-year-old guard to make the trade for him worth their trouble.
Meeks, a nine-year veteran who has averaged 9.3 points per contest in 531 career games, will now be on the lookout for a new team.
The Bucks will have to make a roster move in the coming days to ensure that they’re in compliance with NBA rules.
Currently, Milwaukee is carrying 15 players on its standard roster, with a 16th player – Jodie Meeks – on the suspended list. Entering the season, Meeks had 19 games left on the 25-game suspension he received last season, and the Bucks are set to play their 18th game on Friday, followed by their 19th game on Saturday, signaling the end of that suspension.
As long as he’s on the suspended list, Meeks doesn’t count toward Milwaukee’s roster limit, but after Saturday’s game, the team will need to make a move to get back down to the limit. The Bucks’ 20th game will take place on Monday.
The most likely outcome would see the Bucks waive Meeks. When Milwaukee first acquired him from Washington before the start of the regular season, reports suggested that he would likely be released — the Bucks were simply willing to take him from the Wizards because they also received a second-round pick and cash in the deal.
If the Bucks decide they want to keep Meeks in the mix, they could trade or release another player on their roster. However, most of the 31-year-old’s value is tied to his three-point shooting, which dipped to 34.3% in 77 games last season. Milwaukee also already ranks first in the NBA in three-pointers made and attempted per game, so Meeks doesn’t exactly fill a need for the franchise.